YouthBuild Philly highlighted in national service/education report

Last month, America’s Promise Alliance released a report on The Role of National Service in Closing the Graduation Gap.”  This report coincided with the 20th anniversary of AmeriCorps, which since 1994 has connected volunteers to community needs, including educational attainment and access to quality education.

Much of the report focuses on how outside volunteers have helped students succeed in US schools and increased the national graduation rate. However, the report also pointed out that community service and volunteering can help older students stay motivated and connected to their school through a renewed sense of self and purpose.  The report highlighted YouthBuild USA and YouthBuild Philly in particular, incorporating quotes from Simran Sidhu and Dorothy Stoneman on why service is a cornerstone of the YouthBuild model:

“Providing service in communities, making a difference, producing something of value has a profound influence on self-respect, identity and the career choices young people make — especially when they are in a group that has been considered worthless. For young men of color, it has  a huge impact to be visible on the street doing something positive and tangible for  their community — building affordable housing for their own neighborhoods.”

– Dorothy Stoneman, Founder and CEO, YouthBuild USA

“This kind of tangible service changes our students’ relationship with the community so that they go from being the problem to being the problem-solvers.  Our students wear their hard hats and tool belts because they want to be seen in them.  they’re so proud. ”

– Simran Sidhu, Executive Director, YouthBuild Philly


The report also noted that youth who volunteer are more likely to find employment and less likely to disconnect.  Studies of YouthBuild programs, also summarized in the report, found that members who completed a year of AmeriCorps service were twice as likely to go to college as those who did not complete the year, and five times more likely to attend college than non-AmeriCorps members.  There’s a lot to gain by giving back.


Read the summary and full report here.

Pepsi Refresh Blog features YouthBuild Philadelphia

Liz Dwyer, Education Ambassador for the Pepsi Refresh Project, recently spoke to YouthBuild Philadelphia Executive Director Simran Sidhu for a feature on the Refresh Blog.  She writes:

Although YouthBuild Philadelphia focuses on providing an emotionally supportive and academically rigorous program, Sidhu also wants students to have a broadening experience. To that end, the program ensures students participate in both local and international service opportunities. Last year the school sent several students to Guatemala to construct housing and in March, thirty students [and staff] head to Costa Rica for an environmental project where they’ll be moving turtle eggs to safety at night. Sidhu says the youth don’t see the trips as work. ‘You have to understand,’ she says, ‘many are students who… never mind leaving the city or country, they’ve not left their neighborhoods in a long time.’

The Pepsi Refresh project is a an effort to foster ideas and innovation that will make a positive impact on our communities. It will award more than $20 million to fund individuals and organizations through grants ranging from $5,000 to $250,000 over the next year.

Pepsi Refresh Blog: Building a New Future in Philly

Executive Director named in 40 Under 40!

We are proud to announce that our Executive Director, Simran Sidhu, has been named as a recipient of one of this year’s Philadelphia Business Journal 40 Under 40 Awards! This program recognizes 40 individuals each year, under the age of 40, who are proven performers in their respective industries and communities.Simran Sidhu

As executive director, Sidhu is responsible for setting the overall direction of YouthBuild Philadelphia, including programming, operations, fundraising, and relationship building. Sidhu has been with YouthBuild since 1995, and served as executive director for since 2002.

Sidhu will be honored along with her fellow award winners at a special ceremony on May 19, 2009 at the Sheraton Society Hill.